Minister Faces Sex Abuse Charges
The Complainant Told Police the Assaults Began in 1975, When He Was 12, and Lasted for Seven Years

By April Kemick
London Free Press [Canada]
July 27, 2006

A former Chatham minister faces sex abuse charges after a lengthy police investigation into a complaint dating back more than 30 years.

Robert James Duthie, 67, a retired minister who now lives in the Cambridge area, is charged with one count each of gross indecency and sexual assault, Chatham-Kent police said yesterday.

The charges against the former Victoria Avenue United Church minister stemmed from a police investigation sparked in February when a man filed a complaint with police.

The man told police the assaults started in 1975 when he was 12 years old and continued for seven years, Insp. George Flikweert said yesterday.

The complainant was a member of Victoria Avenue United Church, Flikweert said.

The man said he was abused at the church, a home and a camp linked to the church, Flikweert said.

Asked why it may have taken so long for the complainant to come forward, Flikweert said that historically the topic of sexual abuse has been taboo.

At that time, "it wasn't socially acceptable for people -- especially men -- to talk about sexual assault," he said.

The alleged abuse "occurred during a period of time where . . . there weren't the number of social agencies that would have been able to help a victim of sexual assault."

Duthie, who turned himself in to Chatham-Kent police Tuesday, was released on his own recognizance until his next court appearance on Aug. 9, Flikweert said.

Conditions of his release include not being in the presence of anyone under age 16 without the company of another adult, and not using a computer to communicate with anyone under age 16.

Police continue their investigation into the abuse allegations and ask anyone with information to contact them at 519-436-6616.

Duthie has ministered at churches in Chatham, Cambridge and Charing Cross, Flikweert said.

Internet searches show he may have also been linked to Woodstock's Central United Church.

"Potentially, there could be people in the community that are aware of what took place or may be victims themselves," Flikweert said.


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